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VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors

2022-2023 Members

Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are held in The Honorable Benjamin Lambert, III Board Room, 1213 Clay Street, Richmond, VA.

You can view each board member's full biography by clicking their name to expand.

Bhardwaj_Hem_7703Dr. Bhardwaj calls Virginia home. She completed her undergraduate training at the College of William and Mary. She pursued her medical education and Internal Medicine residency at the University of Virginia and her Cardiovascular Fellowship here at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Bhardwaj is an Associate Professor of Medicine. She wears many hats at VCU. Notably, she is the Director of the Cardiology Inpatient and Consultation Services, Director of Adult Echocardiography, and Director of Cardiovascular Quality Improvement and Safety. Understanding the importance and necessity of continued growth in one’s career, she is currently enrolled in the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute here at VCU. Her clinical work includes attending on the general Cardiology inpatient services and in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit, as well as participating in several outpatient clinics. Additionally, she supervises and reads echocardiograms, stress tests, and cardiac MRIs. Her priorities, in her leadership roles, include optimizing clinical operations, ensuring patient centered care, and ensuring focus on quality improvement and safety here at VCU. Dr. Bhardwaj enjoys teaching residents and fellows, as well as M2 students and was recently awarded Best Teacher in the M2 Cardiovascular course.


Joel Bieber, Esq.Mr. Bieber is the founder of The Joel Bieber Firm, a personal injury and pharmaceutical law firm based in Richmond and Virginia Beach, Virginia; with additional offices in Maryland, South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bieber notes that one side of his family are farmers and the other side is filled with preachers. That is why he describes his upbringing as, “I know how to milk a cow and am comfortable in a church or a barn.” He also notes that he enjoys playing ping pong outside on windy days.

During college Mr. Bieber served both as a Congressional aide and a legislative aide in the Virginia General Assembly. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Old Dominion University and his Law degree from Oklahoma City University. He is admitted to practice in Virginia and South Carolina, the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, South US District Court of South Carolina, the 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals, and has waived into several other states to handle cases across the United States.

Charity work is near and dear to Mr. Bieber’s heart. He has served as Advisory Board member for Crossover Ministries and has been a Spokesman for United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and Richmond Hero, an animal protection organization. He is also active with Caritas, the National Kidney Foundation of the Virginia’s, and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

He also is a member of the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) and was recognized for his work in the dedication to advancement in the field of brain injury by receiving their Founders Award (now known as the Robert Voogt Founders Award).

Some of Mr. Bieber’s hobbies include reading, chess, exercise and watching lots of sports; that includes the Orioles, Wizards and Colts, and continues to work to not be an embarrassment on the golf course. His mom was an avid Washington Football Team fan, which also causes him to root for Washington, in memory of his mom.

He and his wife, Jackey, were married in Williamsburg, Virginia. They are passionate about organizations that focus on organ donation and transplantation. In 2008, Joel had a kidney transplant. His donor was … his wife.


Clyde T. Clark, Jr.Mr. Clark serves as Senior Vice President and Commercial Development Officer for Hampton Roads in Fulton Bank’s Commercial Lending Department. Mr. Clark also serves a liaison to Fulton’s Fair and Responsible Banking Department for Hampton Roads.
In this position, he is responsible for developing and managing commercial relationships throughout Hampton Roads as well as coordinating Fulton’s Community outreach efforts in the Hampton Roads Area of Virginia.
Previously, Mr. Clark worked for BB&T where he held the position of regional corporate banker.

He is a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia and he has served as chairman of the Chesapeake Economic Development Authority, Chairman and Treasurer of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, board member for the Access College Foundation. He currently serves as Chair of the Chesapeake Land Bank Authority, Board Member of the Eastern Virginia Medical School Foundation, Board Member of the Virginia Maritime Association, Board Member of the Norfolk Forum and Treasurer of the Urban League of Hampton Roads. 


Dr. Alice CoombsBoard certified in critical care, anesthesiology and internal medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, Dr. Coombs brought her extensive knowledge, experience and passion to the VCU Department of Anesthesia three years ago. Prior to her arrival at VCU, Dr. Coombs served as chair of the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at South Shore Hospital, a Brigham and Women’s affiliate and as the Medical Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Tufts University New England Medical Center. As
medical director of VCU -Vibra Critical Care Medicine Group, she has taught trainees, Core Competencies in Critical Care Medicine, with practice-based learning in the form of bedside pulmonary and hemodynamic assessment and management. Dr. Coombs has worked to optimize respiratory protocols that improved ventilator weaning rates, decreased ventilator-associated events, hospital re-admissions and length of stay.

After her residencies in internal medicine and anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Coombs completed fellowships in critical care medicine and cardiothoracic anesthesia, practicing for more than 30 years. After having been elected as President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, owner and publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine, she served on the Committee on Publications as well as Chair of the MMS Board of Trustees.

Obtaining a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr. Coombs has extensive public policy experience focusing on the impact of the ACA and MACRA (CMS-directed Merit-based Incentive Payment System) on practicing physicians and their patients. As Medicare Payment Advisory Commissioner for six years, she helped to make recommendations to Congress regarding Medicare payment to physicians, hospitals and other providers. Dr. Coombs, an AMA delegate was elected to its Council on Medical Services in June 2019. As a member of the AMA Commission to Eliminate Health Care disparities, she spearheaded the development of the Health Care Diversity Educational Toolkit, to be utilized throughout the community. Dr. Coombs is also a driving force behind the AMA’s “Doctors Back to School Program”, which teaches physicians and medical students how to encourage youth with tools to pursue health careers. Currently, Dr. Coombs is the National Medical Association, Anesthesiology Section Chair. She has spearheaded the development and organization of the Annual Scientific Convention. Locally, Dr. Coombs currently serves as a Trustee to the Richmond of Medicine and an alternate director with the Medical Society of Virginia. She has worked internationally on the International Healthcare Workforce Collaborative (IHWC) as a delegate in an effort to render expertise to address inadequate workforce.

With a passion for serving minority and vulnerable populations, Dr. Coombs has also been on multiple commissions and boards that address racial and ethnic health care disparities. As a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on the HealthCare Payment System, she helped evaluate the health care payment system and recommend reforms that provide incentives for cost-effective and patient-centered care. As a part of Payment reform Dr. Coombs represented more 24,000 physician and help to obtain malpractice reform to decrease the practice of defensive medicine.

In 2005, Dr. Coombs received the Massachusetts Medical Society's Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health, an annual award recognizing a physician’s demonstration of creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields.



Lisa Ellis, MD, FACPDr. Ellis is a full-time faculty member at VCU Health System. She received her MS degree in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin and worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison hospital for ten years in the area of brain injury, speech/language, voice and swallowing disorders. She received her MD degree from MCV-VCU School of Medicine. She completed residency training at MCV-VCU in Internal Medicine-Women’s Health.

Dr. Ellis was recruited by Sanford Health University, (previously Univ. of SD) after residency as the Director and founding developer of the Sanford Women’s Health Plaza. Sanford Health was awarded a 400-million-dollar donation and implemented a number of new initiatives and growth strategies. While there, she was also the Deputy Director for a national women’s health project for the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health in collaboration with the Dept of Health and Human Resources.

In 2009, Dr. Ellis returned to MCV-VCU as the Director of Women’s Health services in their community clinic directly reporting to the President of MCVP. She later advanced to the role of Chief Medical Officer of MCV Physicians. At VCU Health Dr Ellis has had a range of appointments and roles including Chief Medical Officer for MCV Physicians, Executive Medical Director of Ambulatory Clinics, Interim Vice President of Ambulatory Clinics and Operations and currently Executive Director of Provider and Trainee wellness. During the 24-month interim role of VP of Ambulatory Clinics, she led the growth of ambulatory clinics to facilitate the building and opening of the Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Wellness (NOW) facility, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) Pavilion, the Jackson Center Psychiatry facility, and Stony Point 9109, Surgical Specialties clinics. During her leadership the volumes of Ambulatory clinics grew from 490,000 to over 600,000 patients per year. Dr Ellis was the Medical Director of the Stony Point Women’s Health Clinic, deemed a National Center of Excellence from the Dept of Health and Human Services for over a decade. She continues her care of patients in women’s health at the downtown MCV-VCU campus.

Dr. Ellis has been involved in a list of leadership roles with the American College of Physicians. In her trainee years she was appointed the medical student and residency representative for the state of Virginia for the American College of Physician’s (ACP) Governor’s Council. She was again appointed to the council by the Governor in 2010 as a physician representative for the Richmond district. She was elected Governor for Virginia’s American College of Physicians in 2012, which is a 4-year elected role representing over 4000 internists in the state of Virginia.

Dr. Ellis has been granted a number of awards and honors including the Joseph E. Johnson Leadership award, an international award which recognizes qualities that enhance the effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. During her medical school and residency training Dr Ellis was awarded the Arthur Klein award for Humanism by her peers, the Housestaff Award for Distinguished Leadership, M-IV Foundations of Clinical Medicine Teaching award as well received the Dean’s Award for Leadership. In 2018 she was awarded the Excellence in Professional Service award from the Dept of Internal Medicine, an Exceptional Mentor award from the American Medical Women’s Association and was named a Master Clinician by the American College of Physicians. Most recently, she was awarded the esteemed Laureate award for the state of Virginia, for which she is in a small group of five other women awardees in Virginia.

Dr. Ellis is currently the co-chair for the Women’s Health Congress National meeting and has had that role for over eight years. She was the previous Chair of the National Centennial conference for the American College of Physicians in Boston, 2015 and national annual conference in San Diego 2017. She has chaired over 20 Scientific Annual Conferences for Internal Medicine in Virginia. She is also the selected prestigious highlight speaker for the upcoming 2021 National American College of Physicians meeting. Throughout her career she has been engaged in leadership and wellness training and was invited to participate in a yearlong Leadership Executive training program with Sanford Health and as well is a graduate of the Leadership Development Academy and Physicians Leadership MSHA program training. She was an invited participant for specialized training in wellness by the AMA and ACP and has been deemed a Wellness Champion by these organizations. She has given numerous invited seminars and lectures on both women‘s health and wellness/burnout topics at the local and national level.

Dr. Ellis volunteers as a board member for “Health Brigade”, a local free clinic for the Richmond region and the national Political Action Committee board for the American College of Physicians.

Personally, Dr. Ellis’s husband is a dermatopathologist who practices in the Richmond community and they have two adult sons. She is an avid archer, gardener, golfer and trained vocalist.



avatarMr. Gehring began his legal career with the District Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, which was then followed by work for the United States Department of Justice and later, private practice. He left private practice to join Virginia’s Attorney General’s Office, where he served with distinction as deputy attorney general in the criminal law enforcement division.

Under Governors Gerald Baliles and L. Douglas Wilder, Mr. Gehring served as Deputy Secretary of Public Safety, where he helped facilitate the creation of the Department of Youth Services, the forerunner of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In 1990, Mr. Gehring joined Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as the assistant to the president for government and community relations, becoming vice president for government relations. His vast experience working with local, state, and national government leaders proved invaluable during his tenure at VCU and the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.

He played an important role in the creation of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority and worked to secure Medicaid funding for indigent health care needs.

Mr. Gehring also helped with the creation of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park Authority and has worked with legislators, staff, and health care organizations on numerous other legislative priorities; and health policy.

Subsequent to his retirement from VCU, Mr. Gehring served as a member of the senior team that operated the Virginia State Plan for Anthem and its affiliates.

Mr. Gehring is now retired and enjoys spending time with his wife and family.


Hampton_Lance_7760Dr. Lance Hampton currently serves as a Professor of Surgery/Urology and as the Division Chief of Urology at VCU Health where he has worked for the last 14 years. Prior to his arrival at VCU, Dr. Hampton completed his medical education at Texas Tech University and his urology residency at the University of New Mexico. While at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Hampton was instrumental in the initiation and continuation of the first true laparoscopic urology program in the state. He was also recognized as the Pfizer Scholar in Urology for his contributions to urologic knowledge and care to his patients during this time. Dr. Hampton then joined a small private urology practice in the beautiful mountain city of Flagstaff, Arizona. It was in Flagstaff, that Dr. Hampton’s passion for patient care and also improving health care for his community began. He was able to continue his work with laparoscopic surgery for patients in northern Arizona including expanding care for the Native American Hopi and Navajo nations. During this time, he served on the medical executive board of Flagstaff Medical Center and on countless community organizations. He also was on the editorial board of the Arizona Daily Sun.

Following his passion for oncology care and minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Hampton then completed an advanced urologic oncology and robotic surgery fellowship at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California and accepted the position of Director of Robotic Surgery at VCU Health in 2008. While at VCU, Dr. Hampton has been instrumental in expanding the indications for robotic surgery to include numerous different surgical services including urology, gynecology, pediatric surgery, transplant surgery, and thoracic surgery. VCU is now recognized as one of the preeminent robotic surgery centers in the US. Having performed over 2000 cases himself, Dr. Hampton continues to innovate surgical options for patients of central Virginia.

Dr. Hampton currently holds the Barbara and William Thalhimer Eminent Scholar Professorship in urology and has been the Division Chief of Surgical Urology for over a decade and has seen the urology faculty grow to 13 faculty and multiple practice locations. Because of his deep respect of our nation’s veterans, he has maintained a surgical practice at the Central Virginia Veteran’s Hospital (previously Hunter McGuire VA Hospital) for 14 years as well.

Outside of urology, Dr. Hampton’s passions include philanthropy to multiple organizations including VCU Health, VCU athletics, and the YMCA. He and his wife, Suzie, have personally established and funded an endowment to increase the number of underrepresented minority urology residents at VCU and elsewhere. Dr. Hampton was instrumental in establishing a relationship between VCU Health and Hue University School of Medicine and Pharmacy in Hue, Vietnam. He has travelled to Vietnam countless times to expand this relationship and to help train and teach urology residents and faculty in Vietnam. Personally, Lance and Suzie have been married 30 years and have one son, Davis, who is a proud recent graduate of the VCU Richard Robertson School of Media and Culture. The Hamptons love to travel the world and learn about other cultures and traditions. They have been to all 7 continents and continue to bring this experience back to Richmond.


Todd P. HaymoreTodd P. Haymore leads Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Global Economic development, Commerce and Government Relations practice group. Having worked at the intersection of business and government in various public- and private-sector leadership positions, he provides strategic advice and helps guide companies through the most vexing challenges relating to business expansion or relocation within Virginia, throughout the United States, and abroad.

Mr. Haymore previously served as Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce & Trade and Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry under Governors Terry McAuliffe and Bob McDonnell, and Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Governor Tim Kaine. In these roles, he worked to promote Virginia businesses here and abroad and attracted domestic and foreign business investments to Virginia. Mr. Haymore also partnered with private-sector companies, regional entities and local, state and federal government officials to grow exports from Virginia and implement economic development strategies, including the creation of new and highly impactful economic development incentive programs.

Prior to his service in state government, Mr. Haymore held several leadership positions in the private sector, including serving as head of external affairs, government relations, and corporate communications for two Fortune 1000 companies, Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and DIMON Incorporated. Mr. Haymore also led Universal’s foundation, working with colleagues to devise and execute strategies to improve the company’s philanthropic efforts. In addition, Mr. Haymore served as a key legislative and communications advisor to former U.S. Congressman L. F. Payne.

Regarded as a leader in economic development in Virginia, Mr. Haymore is a member of the Washington Airports Task Force Board of Directors, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Virginia FREE Board of Directors. He earned his master of business administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and received his bachelor of arts from the University of Richmond.

A Danville-Pittsylvania County native, Mr. Haymore resides in Henrico County with his wife, Margaret, and three daughters.




Fay ManoliosFay Manolios is Managing Vice President, Head of Total Rewards for Capital One Financial Corporation. The Total Rewards organization includes Compensation, Recognition, Benefits, and Global Mobility for more than 50,000 associates. A champion of empowering associates to live their best lives, Fay leads a team focused on the design and delivery of programs and experiences that work together to support associates’ total well-being.

With over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Fay has built a career driven by a passion to create value for the associates she serves and the businesses she supports. During her time at Capital One, Fay has championed the effort to raise the minimum wage for hourly workers, helped the company achieve dollar-for-dollar pay equity across gender and race, harnessed the power of analytics to assess front line associate health outcomes and set the vision for reimagining benefits experiences for Capital One associates around the globe.

Fay serves on the Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton and is a mentor with Startup Virginia. Fay served on the Advisory Board of Fringe, a Richmond-based startup working to put benefits choices in the hands of the consumer. She attended St. John’s University in New York before she moved to Greece where she received her Bachelor of Arts from The American College of Greece.

Prior to joining Capital One, Fay held a number of Human Resources roles at organizations including Citibank, Accenture and SunTrust. She grew up in New York and now resides in Richmond, VA with her husband, Paul, and enjoy spending time exploring local restaurants, cycling on the Capital Trail and visiting local wineries.


Jennifer McClellanMcClellan was born in Petersburg, Virginia. She grew up as the child of a Virginia State University professor involved in civil rights activism. McClellan attended Matoaca High School in Chesterfield County, where she was valedictorian. McClellan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Richmond and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

After law school, McClellan began practicing law at Hunton & Williams. In 2005, McClellan ran for office for the first time, seeking a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates vacated by Viola O. Baskerville, who stepped down to run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. McClellan won the election and from 2006 to 2017 served as the 71st District's member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing parts of the city of Richmond and Henrico County. In 2010, McClellan became the first pregnant Virginia Delegate to participate in a legislative session. When Terry McAuliffe was elected Governor of Virginia in 2013, McClellan lead the transition team.

McClellan is vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. As the highest-ranking party officer of the gender opposite the party chair, she is also automatically a member of the Democratic National Committee. As a DNC member, she was a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. McClellan is also vice-chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

McClellan was elected to the Virginia State Senate in a special election held on January 10, 2017, to fill the 9th District seat vacated by Donald McEachin's election to the US House of Representatives. Her seat was once held by Governor L. Douglas Wilder.

She works as regulatory counsel for Verizon and is married with two children.


Timothy A. McDermottMr. McDermott recently retired as chief development officer at Feed More. He began his career in fundraising in 1982 at his undergraduate alma mater, Virginia Tech. He holds a Master in Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. He spent 22 years as a fundraiser serving Virginia Tech, Duke University, VCU School of Medicine, Brown University Alpert Medical School, and Virginia Wesleyan College before helping a wide variety of nonprofits across the country for ten years as a fundraising consultant with Littlefield McDermott and The Kellogg Organization before arriving at Feed More in the summer of 2014. He and his wife, Esther Miller McDermott, live in Ashland and have one son living in Washington DC and a son and daughter living in Richmond.


Keith ParkerKeith T. Parker is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Goodwill of North Georgia. One of the largest nonprofit organizations in the southeast, Goodwill spans a 45-county territory, operating 60 stores, 58 donation centers and 13 career centers. Goodwill employs nearly 3,000 people, each of whom play a direct or supporting role in the organization’s donated goods retail operations and its career services. Annually, Goodwill collects upwards of 2.5 million donations and serves more than 7 million shoppers.

Through the revenue generated in its stores, the organization is able to connect tens of thousands of North Georgians to jobs each year. Parker took the helm at Goodwill of North Georgia in October 2017. Prior to transitioning into his leadership role at Goodwill, Parker served as CEO of the largest transit systems in several cities, including San Antonio, Charlotte and most recently, Atlanta.
Throughout his career, Parker has received numerous awards and accolades for his work as an organizational leader and transportation visionary. He won Texas CEO of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2012. He was recognized as the nation’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in 2015. METRO Magazine named Parker as one of its 20 Most Influential People of the Decade. In 2016, Parker was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). In November the same year, he was named one of eight Public Officials of the Year by Governing magazine. In August 2017, Parker was selected as one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs by Atlanta Business Chronicle.

A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Parker was appointed to the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors by Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2016. Parker received VCU’s Alumni Star Award in 2015.

Parker served on the board of directors for Goodwill of San Antonio and Goodwill of North Georgia. He remains active and engaged in civic and charitable organizations, including service on various national and local boards of directors – such as The Eno Center for Transportation and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Parker holds an MBA from the University of Richmond, as well as a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a BA in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Leadership_Rao_July2019_UnivRel_EditedMichael Rao, Ph.D., became the fifth president of Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health System in 2009.

In this role, President Rao leads a nationally premier, urban public research university with a comprehensive medical center and a Level I trauma center that is among the best in the commonwealth. VCU educates more than 31,000 students from 101 countries in more than 220 degree and certificate programs. As the largest employer in the Richmond area and sixth largest in the commonwealth, VCU’s economic impact on Virginia exceeds $6 billion annually. Additionally, VCUarts Qatar — located in Doha’s Education City — is internationally recognized for excellence in art and design.

Guided by its current strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform, the university will refocus the undergraduate student experience, strengthen educator and researcher compensation, increase national prominence through research, improve the patient experience, and meet the goal set for our largest capital campaign in university history.

Under President Rao’s leadership, VCU’s place among national research universities continues to rise. U.S. News & World Report ranks 22 graduate programs in the top 50. Consistently recognized for excellence, VCUart’s sculpture program and the College of Health Profession’s nurse anesthesia program are the best in the nation at No.1. The university is ranked no. 20 and no. 38, respectively, by the National Institutes of Health for addiction studies and neuroscience research. VCU is designated as being “Community Engaged” with “Very High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation.

Classified as a Tier III institution with the highest level of financial authority by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, VCU educates and graduates more Pell-eligible and first-generation college-going students than its Tier III counterparts in the commonwealth combined.
With the addition of over 5.3 million square feet, President Rao has overseen one of the largest-ever expansions of VCU’s footprint through the construction of living-learning environments, academic meeting spaces and state-of-the-art clinical and laboratory facilities. With guidance from the university’s master facility plan, ONE VCU, improved transit access to VCU and VCU Health for students and employees has been implemented. A soon-to-be constructed STEM facility will expand existing lab space and support innovative teaching methods.

President Rao serves as chair of the Virginia Council of Presidents and the Virginia Bio+Tech Partnership Authority. He also serves as chair of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and he is its representative for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He is a senior advisory board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and is the board secretary for the American Council on Education.

President Rao has been in higher education administration for more than 25 years, beginning in California in 1992, when he became president of Mission College. At the time, he was the youngest college president in the nation. He went on to serve as chancellor of Montana State University – Northern and president of Central Michigan University.

President Rao holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Monica — a watercolorist and graphic designer — have two sons.


Delegate Roxann Robinson, O.D.Dr. Roxann Robinson is a highly respected optometrist and former small business owner. For 30 years she owned and operated her optometric practice here in Chesterfield County. During that time she grew the practice from two employees to nine. A firm believer in helping others, Roxann is actively involved in many programs that improve our community’s quality of life. She served as the Clinical Director of Opening Eyes, a program that provides vision exams to Special Olympic athletes. As an Optometrist, Dr. Robinson worked with locals schools to ensure that underprivileged children have the proper eyesight in order to see and learn. Roxann serves on the Board of Directors at the Manchester Family YMCA and is a member of the James River Rotary Club. Roxann and Michael Lind, her husband, have called Chesterfield home for 37 years.


avatarWally R. Smith, MD is the Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professor of Sickle Cell Disease at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He also serves as the Vice-Chairman for Research of the Division of General Internal Medicine and is the former Scientific Director of the Center on Health Disparities at VCU. Dr. Smith is an experienced implementation scientist and an expert in clinical and health services research in sickle cell disease. He has authored over 100 publications, and served as an investigator on over 50 externally funded grants and contracts. Dr. Smith has been associated with the development of two potential lead compounds for sickle cell disease at VCU.


Dr. Shantaram Talegaonkar Dr. Shantaram K. Talegaonkar is a retired ophthalmologist who served the Hopewell community for more than 28 years at the Eye Clinic of Virginia, Petersburg Eye Center and Virginia Eye Institute. Dr. Talegaonkar’s professional history also includes several appointments and honors. In July 2016, Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed him to the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors, and he has previously served on the Old Dominion Eye Bank Advisory Board, the Hindu Center of Virginia Board of Trustees, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art Multicultural Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees, as well as the Shepherd’s Center of Virginia Board of Trustees. Dr. Talegaonkar also served as chairman for the India Chair Initiative at VCU and received the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Dr. Talegaonkar received both his M.B.B.S. and M.S. in ophthalmology from G.R. Medical College in Gwalior, India. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and is a diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Talegaonkar is married to Dr. Sunita Talegaonkar, a pediatrician, and they reside in Richmond, Va. They have three children, a son and two daughters.


Wijesooriya_2433Romesh Wijesooriya is an Assistant Professor of General Pediatrics at CHoR. He has served as the Division Chair of General Pediatrics since 2014. Additionally, he serves as the Medical Director for the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at CHoR, he is an Assistant Medical Director for Telehealth at VCUHS and is a founding Board Member of the Virginia Children's Care Network (VCCN).

Romesh received his BA in Religious Studies with a minor in Biology in 1999 from The University of Virginia where he was an Echol's Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar. After graduating, he spent one year working at a hospital and orphanage in Jos, Nigeria before returning to The University of Virginia for Medical School. He received his MD from UVA in 2004 and he completed his pediatric residency training at VCUHS in 2007. He served as Chief Resident for one year and subsequently joined the faculty of VCUHS in 2008. He has been board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics since 2007. Due to his interest in pediatric obesity, he pursued and received his certification from the American Board of Obesity Medicine in 2015. In 2016 he attended the Harvard Leadership Development Program for Physicians in Academic Health Centers.

During his time as the Division Chair, the Division of General Pediatrics has expanded from 14 pediatric providers (MDs and NPs) in 2014 to 22 providers (MDs and NPs) in 2020. Additionally, since 2014, the division has seen steady and clear year over year growth in patient volumes (76% increase in patient volumes over 7 years), profit margins, new program development, program expansion, research funding and activity, and educational activity. This clear growth in clinical, educational and research activity and productivity within the division has led to many members of the division Wijesooriya, Niran Romesh 11 of 13 being appointed to leadership roles and responsibilities at the institutional, local, regional and national levels.

Romesh maintains a primary focus on clinical care of patients in both the outpatient and inpatient settings. His special interests include medical education of residents and medical students, family-centered care, access to quality health care for patients and families who exist in lower socioeconomic environments, obesity in the pediatric population, and telehealth.

As a general pediatrician who has practiced medicine (and lives) in an urban, low-income, and under-resourced community since 2004, Romesh has had to grapple with the reality and challenges of health disparities for low-income communities. He has come to recognize that these disparities are generational and systemic in nature. Romesh is committed to improving health outcomes by changing the systems (medical, financial, educational, social, law enforcement, etc.) that have created and perpetuate these disparities.

Romesh has also developed a niche interest in Telehealth. In 2019 he was appointed as the Assistant Medical Director of Telehealth at VCUHS and has been part of the team that helped to manage a 5000% growth in telehealth volumes at VCUHS during the COVID-19 crisis. Romesh believes that telehealth if managed and appropriated and wisely, has a unique opportunity to enable health care to be more patient-centered, cost-effective, collaborative and accessible.

Romesh is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Obesity Society, and Alpha Omega Alpha. He has been recognized for his excellence as a medical educator on numerous occasions including being voted the "Best Teacher" in the Pediatric Clerkship on 2 separate occasions. He has received a number of different accolades for his clinical work including being named to Richmond Magazine's "Top Docs" list annually since 2012. While Romesh has primarily been recognized for his work as a clinician, a medical educator and a physician leader, he has also been able to partner with leading researchers on numerous research projects. He has been invited to collaborate on grant-funded research projects evaluating topics including pediatric obesity, medical education, telehealth, and maternal and infant microbiomes. The findings of these various research projects have been presented at national conferences and published in highly regarded peer review journals including Nature Medicine.

Throughout his career, Romesh has been actively involved in serving the Department of Pediatrics, the VCU School of Medicine, the VCU Health System and the University. He has served on a number of different committees since joining the VCUHS faculty in 2008. He has also repeatedly been invited to join strategic planning initiatives for the Department and the Health System. Most recently, he participated in CHoR Pediatric Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) Taskforce that resulted in the formation of the Virginia Children's Care Network (VCCN) in 2020. The VCCN is the first pediatric-focused CIN in central Virginia and the first CIN involving the VCU Health System. Romesh is currently serving as a founding board member for the VCCN.

Romesh is joyfully married to Lawson and they are the proud parents of 2 energetic Wijesooriya, Niran Romesh 12 of 13 boys. He lives in Church Hill in downtown Richmond. He has been and continues to be deeply committed to his neighborhood and the City of Richmond. He has participated and led a number of different community-based initiatives seeking to address economic and health disparities. From 2005 - 2015 he served as president of Urban Hope, an affordable housing non-profit in the city of Richmond committed to preserving affordable housing for economically challenged urban families in the City of Richmond. From 2011 - 2017 he served on the PTA committee overseeing the application and implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the neighborhood elementary school (Chimborazo Elementary) that his children attended and recently graduated from. He is a founding member of East End Fellowship, a multi-ethnic, economically diverse Christian church located in the east end of Richmond that is committed to "seeking the welfare of the city".


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